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URFC Historical Moments, #3: Gunny scores first goal in franchise history

The cross. The slide. The first goal in franchise history.

SOCCER: APR 27 NWSL - Utah Royals FC at Orlando Pride Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There was anticipation for the club’s first game against the Orlando Pride on March 24, 2018. It only took three minutes of the match for Utah Royals FC to show they could deliver a strong attacking play.

After weathering some pressure from Orlando, goalkeeper Abby Smith rolled the ball out to Rachel Corsie. She switched field to Elise Thorsnes, who played it across the field to Kelley O’Hara.

With O’Hara and Diana Matheson looking to work along the touchline in the attacking third, a key piece of this goal was defensive midfielder Desiree Scott moving up to create a passing triangle to help her teammates work out of trouble.

After getting the ball back to Matheson, striker Brittany Ratcliffe moved to receive a pass. Shelina Zedorsky (circled) and Ali Krieger (marked at the left edge) moved away from their penalty area, looking away from Matheson’s cross.

With the center backs both preoccupied, Gunny Jónsdóttir made a run onto the cross. Dani Weatherholt made a late attempt to follow her, but she was behind the play and couldn’t get between the ball and the sliding Icelander, giving Utah the 1-0 lead and first goal in franchise history.

The lead would be short-lived as Orlando tied the game in the 21st minute on a penalty kick from Marta after a controversial call by referee Danielle Chesky. The call was based on a crossed ball hitting Utah Royals FC defender Becky Sauerbrunn in the face. But Chesky called for a penalty kick and awarded a yellow card to Sauerbrunn, whose arms appeared to be raised when the ball came off Weatherholt’s foot.

Utah and Orland went on tie 1-1, but Jónsdóttir’s goal in the third minute will go down in history, and our number three moment.